The Land of the Four River Banks


Giorgio Buccellati – October 2019

     The phrase "Four River Banks" was introduced around 2200 B.C. by Naram-Sin, king of Akkad, to refer to what we call Mesopotamia. The latter is a Greek term and concept ("land between the rivers") which was alien to the ancients who lived there. "Four river banks" refers to the two banks of the Tigris and of the Euphrates respectively, the "bank" being the starting point of the irrigation system which characterized the territory from the middle course of the rivers down to the Gulf. It was introduced by Naram-Sin to refer to the new political reality which his gandfather, Sargon, had started to implement and he had consolidated. is a cluster of six websites dedicated to five complementary aspects of Mesopotamian civilization: language, history, literature, art and religion; one more website deals with methodological issues. Each of these websites is linked to a printed book relating to the corresponding topic. The websites are identical in strucutre: they contain an extensive bibliographical coverage and develop themes relating to content and method. They are linked to the printed volumes which serve as the guiding narrative in the organization of the material, but they serve at the same time as an independent bibliographical and topical repository.
     The five websites devoted to cultural aspects of Mesopotamia are tightly interlaced. This means that topics that overarch the scope of the idividual subject matter of each website are developed concurrently and are cross-referenced among the websites. Thus a bibliographical item which touches on a political phenomenon may be relevant to literature, religion and art, and appropriate hyperlinks will show how the four develop in parallel ways. As such, the four websites serve as a comprehensive resource for the study of Mesopotmian civilization.
     An overall index (in this section) will bring together all the five websites.
     As is in the nature of websites, these, too, remain active for continuous input and updates. While in the initial stages, they are available through a password to members of the research group working on the project. Interested parties can request access to the editor. Once an individual website acquires sufficient consistency and coherence, it is made accessible on a open access basis.